Are dogs smarter than cats?

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Alison Mcdermott


Calling all dog and cat lovers with curious minds! Today, we’re embarking on an exciting journey to explore the age-old debate: Are dogs smarter than cats?

Research findings

In a study published in 2017 in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, researchers estimated the average number of neurons in the cerebral cortex of various mammals, including dogs and cats. 

According to their findings, cats were reported to have an average of around 250 million cortical neurons, while dogs had approximately 500 million.

Does having more neurons mean higher intelligence? Neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel has been quoted saying “Neurons are the basic information processing units. The more units you find in the brain, the more cognitively capable the animal is”.

One could argue that since dogs have larger heads for more brain room, this is not a fair comparison. But a remarkable finding in the study showed the Golden Retriever having 627 million neurons vs a lion with a much larger head with a count of 545 million. Even more striking was that brown bears with a much bigger mass, had fewer neurons than both these species at 250 million.

Another expert, founder and Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center Brian Hare, told PBS in an interview : “Asking which species is smarter is like asking if a hammer is a better tool than a screwdriver.”

“Each tool is designed for a specific problem, so of course it depends on the problem we are trying to solve.”

“Asking which species is smarter is like asking if a hammer is a better tool than a screwdriver.”

Brian Hare, Founder of Duke’s University’s Canine Cognition Center

Suzana Herculano-Houzel also mentioned “We definitely need more research on this topic before we can definitively state how meaningful brain size is as a measure of intelligence across different animal groups.”

So in essence, intelligence is a complex and multifaceted concept that cannot be easily measured or compared across species.

Instead of seeking a definitive answer to the question of which species is smarter, let us touch up on where each species excels.



Dogs have an incredible capacity to learn new behaviors and tricks. With patience and consistency, it’s very rewarding to see your dog’s understanding of commands continues to grow. 

Social Intelligence

Because dogs have evolved alongside humans for thousands of years, they are known for their strong social intelligence and ability to understand and respond to human emotions and cues. 

Working Abilities

Dogs can provide security, alerting you to any suspicious people or activity in your area. Also, dogs can be valuable aids to service professions. Police dogs are especially skilled at running and tracking tasks, while therapy and search and rescue dogs have become increasingly popular for their ability to provide comfort, aid, and safety to those in need. 



Cats are independent creatures by nature, and while they certainly show plenty of love and affection to their human companions, cat owners are often granted the luxury of allowing their feline friends to operate on their own schedule. 

Learning and Memory 

Cats are capable of learning through observation and experience. They have the ability to learn tricks through positive reinforcement training . Mickey has learned that “high five” equals him getting his favorite duck treat.


You’ll often find your cats exploring around the house, looking for something interesting. Through their exploration, cats learn about their surroundings, use their hunting skills to catch critters and entertain themselves.

Final Verdict

As we reach the end of our exploration into the captivating question, “Are dogs smarter than cats?”, we find ourselves immersed in the fascinating world of their intelligence.

In the end, it’s not about who is smarter. It’s about the incredible bond we share with our pets, the unconditional love they offer, and the immeasurable happiness they bring into our lives.

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